PUBLIC EDUCATION always had many champions in the South from the time of Thomas Jefferson's forceful support of the idea in the eighteenth century. Later the state school systems established by Reconstruction governments persisted through the ensuing decades in spite of severe agricultural depression. In the early years of the twentieth century the slow growth of public schools was strongly affected by two significant factors. One of these was the southward flow of surplus capital from the industrial development in the Northeast along channels of philanthropy and business development. Also of great importance was the White Supremacy movement within the South, started in the nineties and beginning to solidify by the turn of the century into a system of laws and customs discriminating against Negroes. The impact of these two factors -- Northern philanthropy and Southern racial views -- on public education in the Southern seaboard states during the decade and a half after 1900 forms the central theme of the present study.
The Southern Education Board, a philanthropic and propaganda agency with which the study is much concerned, organized public school campaigns from Virginia to Texas, but its main energies were centered in the states examined here -- four Southern states on the Atlantic seaboard, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina,and Georgia.
These states shared the features which made for unity in the South's diversity and set it apart from other regions: the hereditary